The Parti QuÃ©bÃ©cois, who recent polls suggest might form the next provincial government, intends to change the plans that the next generation of francophones and allophones have of attending English CEGEPs.
The PQ has proposed modifications to Bill 101 that, if they passed in the legislature, would oblige francophone and allophone students to attend French CEGEPs.
The change was included in a proposal by the PQ executive in preparation for the party’s April 2011 convention and is available on their website.
Section 3.1 of the proposal states that it is to resist the influence of the English language and will impose the predominance of the French language in Quebec. The PQ is demanding Bill 101 rules be applied to teaching institutions, including CEGEPs.
But not everyone agrees with their reasoning.
“At 18 you should be able to choose where you want to study and in which language,” said Yasamin Maghsoudlou, social science student at John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. Yasamin’s family immigrated to Quebec in 1987 from Iran and she attended French elementary and high school. “I am happy I can speak French,” she said when asked about the Bill 101 in general, “but it should definitely not be extended to CEGEP.”
When asked, students offered many reasons as to why a francophone or an allophone would choose an English CEGEP over a French one. For Virginie Gosselin, a photography student at Dawson College, the reason was to improve her English skills that she felt were not good enough after five years of second-language English classes in her French high school. “Now I feel that I am prepared to go out into the world. I am still not 100 per cent bilingual, but now I know that I can do it,” she explained, after mentioning she wants to continue her education in a specialized photography college outside Quebec.
In a study published on Sept. 7, 2010, the Institut de recherche sur le franÃ§ais en AmÃ©rique outlined the main consequences of switching to English in CEGEP for francophones and allophones. The report suggests that post-secondary education is an important step in the socialization of students and that English plays an important role in doing so for those who attend English CEGEPs. Consequently, results showed that it is in their consumption of culture, mostly cinema and television, that the English presence outscores the French presence, though the same results have been found in French CEGEPs.
These findings don’t reflect the case of Audrey Normandeau. The youth and adult correctional intervention student claims she feels her French has not been affected after two years at John Abbott. “I use French at home and with my friends. I have also been a French tutor for two semesters,” she added, emphasizing that because she attends an English school she does not necessarily use English in all aspects of her life.
Despite the study, Dr. Paula Bouffard, a professor in Concordia’s French Studies department, thinks the PQ’s proposal is not what Quebec needs to protect the French language, even though she agrees that it does in fact need to be protected.
“There are at least three more complex causes than only the exercise of free choice,” Bouffard said. “The importance of the English language in the professional market, the failure of teaching English as a second language in public schools, and the poor quality of French teaching as the mother tongue in public schools.”
Bouffard will participate in a University of the Streets CafÃ© event entitled “The French Language in Quebec: A Common Good for All?” at the Grande BibliothÃ¨que du QuÃ©bec on Nov. 3 as part of the President’s conference series “Montreal: on the stream of languages.”
For more information visit: http://www.concordia.ca/presidentsconferences/stream-of-languages/?prezconf=10859e5d8b5eb8a8713a2e0db8774cf9